Increasing the availability of threonine, isoleucine, valine, and leucine relative to lysine while maintaining an ideal ratio of lysine:methionine alters mammary cellular metabolites, mammalian target of rapamycin signaling, and gene transcription

X. Dong, Z. Zhou, L. Wang, B. Saremi, A. Helmbrecht, Z. Wang, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amino acids not only serve as precursors for protein synthesis but also function as signaling molecules that can regulate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Methionine and Lys are the most-limiting AA for milk production and a ratio of ∼3:1 Lys:Met in the metabolizable protein has been determined to be ideal. Besides Met and Lys, recent studies have evaluated Ile, Leu, Val, and Thr as potentially limiting for milk protein synthesis. The objective of this experiment was to determine if varying the ratio of Lys:Thr, Lys:Ile, Lys:Val, and Lys:Leu while maintaining an ideal ratio of Lys:Met and fixed ratio of other essential AA (IPAA) elicits changes in intracellular metabolites, gene transcription related to protein synthesis, and phosphorylation status of mTOR pathway proteins. Immortalized bovine mammary epithelial cell line (MAC-T) cells were incubated for 12 h (n = 5 replicates/treatment) with IPAA (2.9:1 Lys:Met; 1.8:1 Lys:Thr; 2.38:1 Lys:His; 1.23:1 Lys:Val; 1.45:1 Lys:Ile; 0.85:1 Lys:Leu; 2.08:1 Lys:Arg) or IPAA supplemented with Thr, Ile, Val, and Leu to achieve a Lys:Thr 1.3:1 (LT1.3), Lys:Ile 1.29:1 (LI1.29), Lys:Val 1.12:1 (LV1.12), or Lys:Leu 0.78:1 (LL0.78). Compared with IPAA, metabolomics via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed that increases in availability of Thr, Ile, Val, and Leu led to greater concentrations of essential AA (Leu, Ile, Thr), nonessential AA (Gly, Glu, Gln, Ser, Pro, Asp), and various metabolites including uric acid, phosphoric acid, N-acetylglutamic acid, and intermediates of glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Compared with other treatments, LV1.12 led to greater phosphorylation status of serine/threonine kinase B (Akt), mTORC1, and ribosomal protein S6 and lower phosphorylation of α subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2. In addition, LV1.12 upregulated abundance of CSN2 and both the abundance and promoter methylation of CSN1S1. Although LI1.29 led to the second highest response in mTORC1 phosphorylation status, it resulted in the lowest phosphorylation of Akt and eEF2 and mRNA abundance of CSN2 and various AA transporters (SLC7A5, SLC36A1, SLC38A2, SLC38A9, SLC43A1). Overall, data indicate that an increase in Val at an ideal ratio of Lys:Met could further enhance milk protein synthesis by altering intracellular concentrations of essential AA and metabolites that could play a regulatory role, increasing phosphorylation status of mTORC1 and key signaling proteins, and upregulation of AA transporters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5502-5514
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018



  • essential amino acid ratio
  • lactation
  • metabolomics
  • milk protein synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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